Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Pay It Forward

My mother was quite a funny and dear woman and had a gift for making everyone laugh.  It has been almost 20 years since she passed, and I still miss her each and every day.  Mom did so much for me as I grew to adulthood, but there was one important thing she wouldn't help me with.  Wouldn't even discuss.  Would pretend didn't exist.  That thing was sex.

When I was 9 years old, I saw an advertisement in a magazine from the grocery store.  It urged mothers to send away for a box of assorted free products from a company called "Kimberly Clark."

                 "Do you have a little girl who will mature soon?" 

I showed my mom.  She frowned but said she would give the dollar for shipping and handling and I could fill in the form.  The whole thing was a mystery to me, but whatever it was, it sounded grown up. 

When the box arrived, Mom left it on my bed and didn't say a word.  Since I knew that what was hidden in there was somewhat secretive, I waited until after dinner and closed my bedroom door.  There were some packages with thick white paper things called "napkins."  They did not look like the napkins in our kitchen.  There was also a little box that said "Miss Deb" on it.  Inside was a strange bunch of elastic pieces with no purpose I could figure.  Finally, I picked up a pink pamphlet that was titled....

                                   "You're a Young Lady Now."

Now what did that mean?  Sounded really stupid to me.  I was not a lady and wasn't going to be one for a long, long time.  I kept reading.  Instead of things making more sense, they became more muddled.

"Somewhere between the ages of 9 and 17 you'll discover that the inside of you has grown up."

What?  I don't get it.  

"One special day you'll notice a stain in your panties."

Like poop?

"To be sure of daintiness at all times, it would help to have two sanitary belts."

Oh, that must be the stretchy thing.

"Naturally, your mother will tell you where to dispose of used napkins at home."

I seriously doubt that my mother will discuss any of this.

I did, in fact, take the book to my mother and asked her if we could talk about the stuff I didn't understand in the pamphlet.

She lowered her voice, "No, we can't talk about this.  Don't ask me again."

Well, that's that.  I threw the box in the back of my closet and didn't think about it again for several years.

At the age of 12, I finally learned the basics of sexual intercourse and how babies were made from a girlfriend who was younger than I was.  Not really the best way to be introduced to something so important.  My friend had a long talk with her mother about the "birds and the bees."  I knew after she told me everything that my mother would never speak of such of thing with me.

When I was 13 and in the eighth grade, my family went to pick out pumpkins and go to a haunted house.  My youngest sister was determined to go with me and my other siblings.  She was too little, and she was petrified by the time we saw the first bloody axe.  I carried her the rest of the way through the haunted house with her head tucked so she wouldn't see anything.  I talked in her ear to drown out all the scary noises. 

All the while though, I was having horrible pain in my abdomen.  I didn't know why, but it got worse and worse.  Could it be from carrying my little sister?  When we were out of the haunted house, I told my mom that my stomach hurt really bad.  She was worried and said she was afraid that I was getting sick.  We drove to my grandma's house for dinner.

By the time we arrived at Grandma's, I was bent over with pain and went to the bathroom.  You probably already know how this part turns out.  There was blood everywhere and not the fake kind in the haunted house.  I screamed for my mom to come to the bathroom.  Not at any time did I remember that stupid pink pamphlet from 4 years before.  When Mom saw the mess, she told me to get myself cleaned up and left.  I was crying by that time, and soon my grandmother knocked gently on the bathroom door.

                                     "Can I come in, honey?  Are you alright?"

Grandma helped me get cleaned up, and she put a small towel in my pants.  She also gave me 2 aspirin and told me to pull out the Kotex box at the back of my closet when I got home.  Her hug was so comforting, and I managed to eat a little dinner.

I taught myself how to use the sanitary napkins.  Every month the cramps would be so bad that I would lay in a fetal position on my bed and cry.  It was my dad who first brought me some pills called Midol.  They hardly helped at all, but it touched me that Dad was so concerned.  A heating pad helped more than anything.  When I asked my mother for anything that might help, she told me that it was a woman's "cross to bear."

After having terrible cramps on a camping trip, it was my father that took me to the doctor's office for a check-up and waited in the lobby while I had my first pelvic exam.  When we were finished, Dad came into the room and told the doctor that I needed some kind of medicine to help with the pain every month.  The doctor prescribed something, and it was the first time in years that I was up and around at "that time of month."

On a vacation to Florida one year, I got my period the first morning when my parents and siblings were leaving for the beach in their swimsuits.  I had bought some things called "tampons" but I didn't have a clue as how to use them.  My mother came into the bathroom answering my call.

"Mom, please show me what to do with these things.  I tried to put them up there, but I don't think I am doing it right.  It really hurts."

She was surprised that I would even ask her for such a thing and very uncomfortable as well.

"Well, I can't help you.  Maybe you will figure it out.  We have to go now."

And they did.  They all left for the beach and were gone several hours.  I sat there on the toilet crying and trying to insert that awful cardboard tube for a very long time.  I honestly don't remember when I finally figured out how to angle the thing properly, but I did eventually get to go swimming the next day.

Over my teenage years, I tried many times to ask a question.  Not only wouldn't she talk to me, she made it plain that she thought those kind of questions were disgusting.  If there was anyone who explained things to me, it was Sam.  We did indeed meet when we were 15, so I had lots of questions.  He was a good teacher in so many ways.

When I was 19, my mother found birth control pills in my purse.  She wasn't being nosy, just needed my keys to move a car.  At first I was scared.  What would she say?  Would she tell my father?  I needn't have worried.

She turned to me and asked a bit sarcastically, "Well, do you like it?"

"What?" I said because I truly didn't understand her question.

"You know."

Suddenly I knew she was talking about sex, but she didn't even want to say it!

"Yes, I do like sex, Mom."

"Well, you won't."

And that is the last thing she ever said to me concerning sex.

When my sisters started puberty, I was there for them.  Yep, everything from menstruation to explaining sexual intercourse.  And how nice it could be as well.  I even remember helping them the first time they wanted to use a tampon.  We laughed together, but they didn't sit on a toilet in a hotel crying.

 As the years went by, I often wondered how my siblings and I were ever conceived!  And I thanked my lucky stars that Sam was patient with me and I was a good student.  Too bad I didn't trust him to ask about spanking.

Our children were both boys, but I made sure as they grew that I was there to answer any questions and give them a good start on a healthy perception of sex.  I wanted them to feel confident about themselves and accepting of other people's sexual leanings.  In fact, the older I got, the more outspoken I was about sex and how I hated that it wasn't treated with more ease and acceptance between healthy adults.

I remember sitting at a table eating lunch with a bunch of my teacher friends, and one of them was talking about the first time she smoked pot.  There were lots of funny stories shared, and finally someone asked had I smoked pot in college.

"No, I was really more into sex," I said.  And the table went silent.  These were my friends, and I had answered honestly.  They were good eggs about this and even teased me about it over the years, but I was discovering that there were other women like my mother.

I have several wonderful nieces with whom I am close.  Although it was never really a topic of conversation before, perhaps my sweet Jenna remembered a frank comment I had made.  I don't know why she chose me to ask about having an orgasm.  She was single, and we were alone relaxing on her porch.  We talked seriously, but she knew I was giving her the facts and that I wasn't shocked or disgusted.

"You can talk about an orgasm until you are blue in the face, honey, but I think you need to experiment with giving yourself an orgasm before trying to tell a partner how to please you.  Do you have a vibrator?"

She didn't, and I told her we would take care of that pronto.  When I got home from my trip, I promptly sent her a good old Rabbit model vibrator.  Can't go wrong with a tried and true staple pleasure product.  Along with that I found a copy of a book that I thought had good advice for a young woman or any woman for that matter.  It was called The Good Girl's Guide to Bad Girl Sex.  Great gift by the way.

Anyway I was thinking lately that I am proud about the way I turned out, considering the really sketchy picture of sex I received, courtesy of my mother.  Also, maybe I've helped enough other people to feel like I have made up for Mom's sad and inadequate attitude toward one of life's most wonderful gifts.  I surely treat it like a gift every time.

If you have a story like this or hopefully a better one, tell us about it or how you helped someone else.